JET Life, Teaching

A Snapshot of my life as a Writing Teacher/Sensei

I just got rid of my Twitter account because I never use it. But before I clicked deactivate, I browsed through my old updates, and happened upon one I posted in the fall of 2014:

One of my freshman writers referred to dead leaves as “the corpses of spring” in a Nature Observation Exercise I had my students do.

And then in the following post (since Twitter sucks and contains me to only 140 characters):

I just needed to write that down somewhere so I can remember it.

I remember being so in awe of some of the blossoming young writers who wound up in my creative writing class. I witnessed so much untapped talent as it flowed from their pens and fingertips.

And then I had that same feeling in one of my classes today in Japan, where I walked around and observed the writing process of a class of 40 top science and math students as they came up with ideas for eco-friendly inventions and wrote a one-minute speech about it in English. Some of my favorites were probably the students who wrote about inventing “moon panels” or “ice-powered refrigerators” or “mini nuclear reactors” or “flying carpets with windows and roofs.” It was really nice to be able to walk around and give individual attention to these students who normally hide behind their genki friends in class. Sometimes all it takes is a 2-minute encounter with a quiet student to recognize that they are really incredible at English, but they are just too shy to speak.

As for the boy who wrote about “mini nuclear reactors,” aside from his articles and prepositions, his sentences were near perfect. When I told him that, he bowed his head and said “thank you.” I knew he could understand me completely.

I was totally in awe of my students today as I helped them polish their writing during class, while I could hear a group of boys from another class practice their “Daiko Energy” chant in the gym in preparation for Sports` Day in September.

I`m writing this post for whomever chooses to read it of course, but mostly so that years down the line, I can remember this tiny victory in the classroom today and be reminded of the talented students that have graced my life here, just like I was reminded of the beautiful prose my American student wrote two years ago.

Write on.



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